Some may say that it might be a little early for me to be writing about burn out, seeing that I am only a month and a half into this job, but recent experiences seem to say otherwise. Today, I transported Blue’s 4 year old to her visit and while waiting for her to show (she was over 10 minutes late again) the foster dads of her other 2 children were chatting about the other caseworker on the case. And essentially one of them, one who has been a foster parent for 27 years, said that there are two basic types of caseworkers: good and burnt out. Yikes.
The other catalyst for my thinking about burn out was a member of my unit had her last day on Friday. This is not a good sign as a major draw for me to this particular office was its consistency. And if this is consistency, uh oh. The worker that left our unit, was, in my opinion, very good at her job. The benefit of my shadowing people lately, has been that I have been able to not only learn from them (and their successes and mistakes), but I have also been able to size them up. This worker seemed to have a good rapport with clients – she was compassionate, but also honest and didn’t get pushed around by them. She was organized and seemed to care about her kids and coworkers. She wasn’t super forthright with me about why she left (probably because she didn’t want to scare me off), but just said that the unit she was transferring to (adoption homestudies – no angry people) was one that she originally wanted to work for. She first did investigations (1.5 years) and then our ongoing unit (6 months) and so lasted a year in the trench work. Will that be my lifespan as well?
Blue is also burning me out. I have started to say no to her and she is not happy about it. I have started to hear some barbs as a result of it. So on Thursday, she asked me to move the location of her visits. On Friday, after speaking to all of the parties, I agreed to move it to a library that has a park adjacent to it. I inform Blue of this and she is still angry and can’t understand why we can’t have it at the mall. Her argument: essentially the library and park are boring and she wants to buy things for her kids. She again accuses me of not listening to her or caring about her concerns. I remind her that she asked me to change the location and I am doing that, to a location she actually had said previously was fine. Anyway, logic does not exist for her and I just have to tell her that I am not changing my mind in the short term, but she is welcome to provide me with a list of suggestions for the future. There were other things she was of course upset with as well on Friday evening and while I was attempting to be patient and just “experience” another conversation with her, I had to push my way off of the phone and then did after 83 minutes.
And I was thinking, if I had a full caseload, which I will soon, there is no way that I could sit there and give any person that kind of time. One of my coworkers then informed me, this is why we don’t return some phone calls. I understand.